Contact center agents are on the front lines in terms of your business’ contact with your buyers. Their performance is paramount to attracting and retaining customers as well as generating revenue. None of this is a surprise. What is, however, is the toolset and metrics-tracking required to optimize agent performance. You want your agents trained, engaged and motivated, and it is time to take a look at what has been working and what has not.
For many years it has been all about agent evaluations (quality assurance or call center QA), call center agent performance metrics (performance management), and skills improvement (call center coaching). In fact, there are countless software/solution vendors on the market today that offer some variation of these very products. There is no question that these tools are critical. Collectively they help uncover workflow issues, agent skills deficiencies, and work to increase agent skill sets. The goal is, of course, to increase customer satisfaction and close more sales opportunities – and such solutions do an adequate job. But are they enough anymore?
What has been missing until now is the rest of the agent optimization continuum, which augments agent evaluation and improvement with agent performance inspiration. Today’s traditional call center QA and performance management vendors don’t address this area. Their solutions rely on evaluation, training and coaching to boost agent performance. But we all know that skills improvement is only part of the battle.
According to McKinsey, only 38 percent of U.S. contact center agents are “highly satisfied” in their job, and only 43 percent claim to be “somewhat satisfied.” This means that more than half of all agents don’t like their work. Based on these numbers, you can imagine that traditional methods of focusing solely on agent evaluation and improvement aren’t enough anymore. Contact centers must begin recognizing and motivating their agents.
Agent Recognition and Motivation
Happy agents provide the best service to your customers. According to Forbes, “87% of call center agents who are ‘very satisfied in their job’ are willing to work ‘especially hard for their organization’s customers,’ only 8% of agents who are dissatisfied with their job are willing to do the same.”
The best way to boost agent morale and satisfaction is to publicly recognize high performers. Create custom awards and announce the recipients to all staff. You can also award electronic badges to agents. Both mechanisms create a sense of pride within each agent, leading to increased job satisfaction and performance.
Another means of inspiring your agents is to create an online store and an award system. Your team leaders, managers and QA analysts can then award points for good performance. Agents can exchange these points for gifts (like a day off, a Starbuck’s gift card, a cash reward, etc.). Incentives like these go a long way toward inspiring and motivating agents.
Like with one’s own group of friends, peer interaction is equally critical to contact center agent satisfaction and engagement. You don’t want to create an environment in which your agents are walking around talking with other staff or congregating for long periods of time by the water cooler. Although, what you can do is create an online social community wall for agents to congratulate each other, share best practices, ask/answer questions and motivate one another. Company announcements can also be made here. These social communities help to keep agents engaged in their job throughout the day.
Peer reviewing is another way to keep your agents engaged. Enable an agent’s peers to score one of his/her past interactions like a QA analyst or evaluator would. Your agents will take these peer reviews seriously. In some instances, they carry more weight to them than manager-reviewed evaluations. If you plan to go this route, it makes sense to spend a little time training your agents on how to effectively score and evaluate performance. Their evaluations and feedback will mean much more.
Perhaps more than anyone else, team leaders are always looking for ways to keep their agents engaged. After all, their agents’ performance largely comprises their own performance. Enabling team leaders to create customized quizzes on the fly daily will keep agents focused on the job at hand. Content can focus on any issues that keep recurring or perhaps on best practices, for instance.
So, you may be thinking that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in terms of your agent call center QA program. The problem with that thinking though is that many of your competitors are already investing in full Agent Optimization Suites, which include the agent inspiration piece. If you elect to stay the course and keep doing what you’ve always done, you may very well get left behind. You may soon find your agents defecting at even greater rates and also experience declining customer satisfaction scores. It’s time to start considering agent inspiration as part of your call center QA program.